Most beginners today make their first experiences playing poker on the Internet and later decide to play in a live poker tournament. Because there are many differences between online poker and the game of live poker, we’ve put together a short guide that explains what’s really important when playing poker in a real casino.
How do you play live poker tournaments?
Online, a computer algorithm ensures that the chips are neatly sorted and represented by nice graphics and numbers. In live poker, there’s no one to sort and count your chips and tell you what your budget is. You should therefore separate your chips neatly into stacks and always keep track of them so that you can make the right play.
By keeping order, you can place calls, bets and raises more easily and quickly and don’t hold up the game unnecessarily.
Hands on the Internet go much faster because things like shuffling cards, organizing and counting chips and other procedures are automated by the computer. In live poker, however, a human being does these tasks, so everything takes a little longer. In addition, there is more distraction for the players at the live table, so a round of play usually takes much more time than in the online poker room.
A hand in live poker can take up to 10 minutes or even longer. In the online version, you play about four times as many hands in the same amount of time.
Placing chips is a point where many new live players make mistakes. Online, “betting” means clicking just one button, where you have to count your raise size in the live game and play all chips over the betting line.
You should also be aware that betting the chips must be done in one fluid motion. Separate bets, where you reach back to the stack, is called a “string bet” and is forbidden in most casinos.
Watch the action
In live poker there is no beep to indicate that it is your turn to play. You certainly don’t want to be the player who stops the game because you didn’t realize it was your turn, do you? So you should be alert and act immediately when it is your turn.
The same goes for the forced bets in the game: you should play them without being asked by the dealer, so as not to slow down the game unnecessarily, since blinds and antes are your own responsibility.
It is your own responsibility to keep an eye on your cards. Be careful that the dealer does not accidentally collect your hand along with the Dead Cards. A chip or card protector can help to show the dealer that you are still in the game.
You should also keep in mind that there is a player sitting right next to you when playing live poker. Therefore, under no circumstances should you allow anyone to see your cards or give out free information.
We won’t go into detail about poker tells at this point, but you should keep in mind that there is other information available to you that you can use to make decisions about your opponent’s strength and weakness when you’re sitting directly opposite them.
Mastering this skill can take years, but there are many good books on the subject, such as Mike Caro’s “Book of Poker Tells”. This and others give you an insight into the subject matter and what to look for in tells.
The only way to learn the finer points of the live poker game is to jump right into the game. Live poker offers a completely different experience than gambling on sites on the Internet and only through live poker experience and a willingness to learn can you become a good live player.
Strategies for Live Poker Tournaments
Even in live tournaments you have to think about buy-in levels, blind structure and tournament modes. Since live poker is slower than online poker and you can play fewer hands per hour, the variance increases. This results in a more conservative bankroll management that you will need to adopt. If you’re playing a live tournament, you should have 100 times the buy-in as your bankroll so that you can easily cushion the upcoming swings.
1. Start by playing poker on the micro-limits
Even for someone who is used to playing cash games with large sums of money, it is advisable to start playing online on lower limits. The purpose of these first sessions, apart from playing solid poker, is to familiarize oneself with the nuances of online gambling.
Starting to play on lower limits also allows the beginner to start playing online with a lower bankroll. This can help to ensure that they are not overly stressed by losing sessions, and thus allow the player to focus on the long term goal of becoming a successful online player.
Generally speaking, if one compares online and live gambling with the same stakes, online gambling will tend to provide more difficult opposition. It is possible that a player who starts playing online with the same amount of money as he is used to playing live may begin his foray into online poker with the feeling of being overwhelmed by his competitors. Therefore, gradually changing the betting limits should allow a beginner to gradually get used to these differences, and in the long run to understand them completely, and thus learn how to win in online poker.
2. Familiarize yourself with the new aspects of the online game.
The barriers to be overcome in the first few sessions include aspects unique to online poker, such as the use of the time-bank feature. For some players starting out online, having a defined amount of time to act can be an important adjustment from the world of live play where a player usually has at least a few minutes to act before risking being called to order. Additional aspects that the beginner will need some time to familiarize themselves with are: the look and feel of the site, the betting features, the account and balance management page, as well as the offers of discounts and other bonuses.
Taming online poker rather than rushing headlong into it will help the beginner get used to the many unique aspects of online poker. One such aspect that differs greatly from live poker is the large number of hands played within an hour. Typically, this number will be more than double the number of hands played in a conventional casino, even when playing at a single virtual table. The speed of the game may seem difficult for beginners to overcome, and may require some getting used to.
3. Start by playing at a single table
It can be tempting to jump straight into multi-table play, as one of the many advantages of online gaming is the ability to play at multiple tables at the same time (although recently some players have been spotted playing multi-table in live tournaments as well). However, a good assimilation of the technical aspects of online poker will help the player during the first few weeks. Learn how to win at online poker on a regular basis at the table. Then, once the player is confident enough at a table, he can start adding one table at a time, up to a certain number that he feels comfortable with.
4. Create a space without distractions to play
Without the constraints of sitting at a real table in a casino, many online players fall into the trap of looking for ways to entertain themselves in the hands. Typically, these include: watching TV, talking on the phone, or surfing the internet. These distractions will often lead to mistakes on the part of the player, either by playing a hand poorly or by missing information that could be useful in future situations.
By developing an unprofessional attitude towards the game, a person could translate this into not taking poker seriously enough and could therefore prevent him or her from becoming a great online player. Creating an environment without distractions is an essential part of becoming a successful online poker player. If a player has reached the point where they can easily manage a table and still have some free time in their hands, it is often a good time to consider adding another table to their regular playing activity.
5. Consider purchasing new equipment.
Creating an ideal environment to play online poker is also a matter of hardware. Playing on a laptop while sitting on the couch in the living room with family members is a great distraction. Playing at a table, ideally in an office that can be closed and where you will be isolated from the rest of the living space, encourages a player to maintain a professional attitude towards online poker. For people who expect to spend a lot of time playing online, investing in an ergonomic chair may be a possible solution to reduce back problems.
Just like the few transitions that a beginner has to make to play online poker, the purchase of equipment can be important to the goal of maximizing online profits. A large, high-resolution monitor can reduce eye strain and make the multi-table process easier. A good quality mouse can reduce wrist strain and the time it takes to perform an action. For tournament players who may have a short break every hour, having a bathroom and toilet nearby can be very convenient.
6. Make your workspace a positive environment
Simple measures can help create the ideal playing environment, including: a small refrigerator for cold drinks and snacks, a playlist of the player’s favourite songs, and personal souvenirs that will give the workspace a motivating atmosphere. Painting the room with cheerful colours and arranging flowers or plants can help achieve the goal of maintaining a positive environment.
Creating an ideal environment for playing online poker will have many positive effects, such as: maintaining a professional attitude that can result in better decisions by the player during a game, helping the player avoid tilt by being in a room full of positive energy, and increased physical comfort for the player that results in the ability to play longer sessions.
7. Use software and its features to your advantage
The best way for a beginner to start using the software is through a feature that exists on most poker sites: note taking. Often, an opponent will perform actions at the tables that a live player would have kept in mind if it happened at a nearby casino, such as “This player tends to overestimate the strength of his hand when he is in possession of the top pair”. An excellent thing when playing online is that this mental note can usually be recorded so that it can follow the player, and can be consulted every time you meet the player again. You can simply write down: “Overestimates his top pairs”.
A feature also available on many poker sites is the ability to adopt a well-defined color legend for players. Developing a color legend system to identify the relative strengths of the players can make table selection an almost instantaneous process. For example, let’s say a player decides to assign a rating with the color red to each “shark” he plays against. If the player plans to play a game of sit ‘n go but notices from the lobby that eight of the registered players are rated red, he will soon realize that this table is not very profitable.
8. Consider purchasing software.
Programs such as Hold Em Manager and Poker Tracker have many advantages. First and foremost, they have a customizable face-to-face display feature called HUD that provides information about a player’s opponents by tracking all the hands they have played together. There are several options in terms of the data to be displayed, which is not insignificant, as a face-to-face cash game player will want to have different statistics than a turbo sit ‘n go player will need.
Another interesting aspect of using programs like Hold’em Manager for beginner online players is their ability to review hand histories. While many poker sites have a hand history, they lack most of the functionality available in other programs. The ability to review a cash game session or an entire tournament without sitting at a table is an invaluable study tool for any poker player.
Sit ‘n Go Wizard is an important learning tool for tournament players. It analyzes hands from both an EV Chip and ICM (Independent Chip Model) perspective. It is an excellent tool for players to improve their hand ranks for call and all-in. This tool is ideal for learning how to win online poker tournaments.
9. Take a look at the free software
Some of the best software for online poker (mainly for learning purposes) is free. PokerStove, as well as other such programs, allows the user to calculate his or her equity in relation to a given range. Universal Replayer is an excellent tool for reviewing a tournament’s hand history, especially for players who do not wish to pay for a program that includes a HUD. HoldemResources.net has many useful features for tournament players, including the Nash Equilibrium calculator, as well as the Nash Equilibrium push/fold board for head-to-head play.
10. Examine the effectiveness of the software
While software that allows the online beginner to improve his poker playing skills is very important, other poker software is designed to assist the player with multi-table play. As the beginner makes the gradual transition to the intermediate player level and beyond, this type of software can be very useful.
Programs such as Table Ninja, Auto Hot Keys, and Place Mint help a player act in a way that maximizes his or her effectiveness. In addition, a player can take a look at table modifications to customize the appearance of online poker tables and cards to suit their preferences.
For a live player, the transition to online poker can present many challenges, but remembering to play in a progressive manner, creating an ideal environment, and using the software are essential tips that will help the player be successful in his or her goal of becoming a winning online poker player. The tips listed above will help you win your online poker games more easily.